From 1968 to 1974 South East London band Out Of Darkness forged a dynamic and energy packed new form of multi-cultural gospel rock music and are now seen as forerunners to spiritually influenced artists such as U2, the Alarm and Ben Harper. At a time when serious Christian music in the UK was unheard of and most sandal-toting Jesus hippies were content to bash out a three chord Psalm 23 on a nylon-strung acoustic from Woolworths, Out Of Darkness stood out like a shining beacon in a fog of mediocrity. Their sound was unmistakably Hendrixy, Wray Powell tweaked his fuzzy Strat with a Crybaby and cranked up his Marshall mercilessly. They were a UK ‘Gospel Blues Super Group’ with musicians selected at audition. The band was created around guitarist Wray who with bass, keyboards & percussion player Carl Grant were from the black Gospel group the ‘Soul Seekers’. Drummer Tim Anderson, came from the progressive gospel blues band ‘Insight’, as did bassist Bruce Duncan, who joined ‘Out of Darkness’ in 1972. The vocalist and guitarist Tony Goodman came from the band ‘The Pilgrims’. They started their career playing London rock club venues and regional theatre concerts then toured England and Scotland several times and performed at the National Jazz and Blues Festival. Rock festivals followed with BBC and international radio and TV coverage. They also appeared with Cliff Richard, Marsha Hunt, Quiver, Gravy Train, Terry Dene, Bill Nelson, Gordon Gilltrap, Graham Kendrick, Judy McKenzie and Van Der Graaf Generator.
The band recorded one self-titled studio LP in 1969 and a live set on the ATV Mobile in Manchester, during the 1970 UK ‘Sound Vision’ tour. Their self titled debut LP is (quite rightly) regarded as an outstanding example of late 60s/early 70s rock music and is, at a (very high) price, highly collectable. After completing a tour of Scotland in 1972 the band returned home and recorded their tour set at the Celebration Cub in Gillingham. The session was arranged by Graham Cray and supervised by BBC engineer Peter Cornelius and took place one afternoon, playing live in the empty club and recording onto a 4 track machine. The tapes were eventually unearthed by the group’s drummer Tim Anderson in 1993, 21 years after the recording took place, and very soon after ‘The Celebration Club Session’ album was at last released.
The album features historically important material stretching out from Hendrix style heavy riffs to Afro rock percussion. It is lyrically diverse, not many bands lamented the pain caused by drug addition, celebrated creation and dealt with racism in the early 1970s! In their six-year history the band performed with seven different line-ups. ‘The Celebration Club Session’ features line-ups five and six, but for many fans of the band, the Celebration Club Band is the favourite. This 1972 live recording of this (at the time) ground-breaking, controversial and often misunderstood band, catches them at their very best with their blend of soul, Jimi Hendrix style heavy rock and gospel. Their songs are still relevant, dealing with subjects such as drug abuse and racism, and the band still sounds gutsy, raw and exciting. All six songs are previously unreleased and have been brought to light because of their historical importance.